Just like Pac-Man, Frogger is a game that’s been remade and rebooted countless times. There have been sequels and spin-offs, but few that match the simple joy of the original. Frogger Decades is an attempt to celebrate the game’s 30th anniversary, and it does so surprisingly well. Decades takes what was great about the original and expands on it, making for a much more substantial experience.
There’s actually a story in the game, though it’s really just there to provide an excuse for Frogger to go on his adventure. It works though, and is in keeping with the anniversary theme. A cartoony Frogger– who looks a lot like Kermit the frog– is off to find his birthday surprise when a villainous crocodile rearranges his map, forcing him to take the more scenic, and dangerous, route.
At its most basic, the gameplay is the same as in the original Frogger. You can move one space at a time and the goal is to reach the end of the stage while avoiding a host of obstacles. Unlike the original, which had you crossing just a road and a river, Decades spans a total of 10 levels spread across five differently themed worlds. That may not sound like a lot, but completing each stage will likely take some time because Decades is decidedly difficult. As the game so helpfully pointed out, we died more than 70 times in one stage alone.
To get to the other side.
This is because the number of obstacles thrown Frogger’s way have increased substantially. There are enemies prowling about and moving platforms to deal with, in addition to the steady stream of traffic to navigate. The levels are also quite large but, thankfully, checkpoints are placed rather liberally throughout each. Even still, getting from one red flag to the next is almost always a difficult challenge.
To deal with this extended range of obstacles, Frogger’s own abilities have been increased as well. He can jump across gaps, leap high into the air, and even use his tongue to move boxes and crates. These abilities make Decades feel somewhat like a cross between the original Frogger and a more traditional platform game like Super Mario.
Unfortunately, while in theory controlling Frogger is quite simple, he doesn’t always do exactly what you want. To jump across gaps, for instance, you need to hold your finger for a moment and then swipe in the direction you wish to move. But sometimes Frogger would leap before we even swiped and in a seemingly random direction. The level design can also make the game harder than it needs to be, as occasionally things like bridges or train tracks will obscure parts of the screen. It’s not so bad when it’s simply hiding a fly, but when an enemy lurks about unseen it can be quite frustrating.
With its modern presentation and expanded gameplay, Frogger Decades is a Frogger sequel that’s actually worth playing. But just be sure you’re ready for a challenge, as the titular frog will get squished many, many times before you manage to find his birthday surprise.